Running Low On Joy These Days?

Feeling a little blah? A little, “Where am I going and what’s the point in all this?”   Want to explore some possibilities?

Perhaps it’s a good idea to do your own network check, starting from the most powerful system you own: your brain. What is happening in your mind? What’s the panorama up there?

What do you think about during a day? Uplifting, or depressing ideas? Constructive, or destructive?  If we’re honest, many of us spend considerable time in the realm of negativity, without even considering the effect on our futures.

Do you realize that your time and your thoughts are actually potentially priceless treasures? One is so rare it can never be replaced, and with the other, we can change the world.

Your time and thoughts have higher value than in spending them fostering an offense or nurturing a regret. The only return on these is seeing your life waste away.

Use that energy to cultivate your God-inspired giftings and worthy interests, and you will find enthusiasm, vitality and joy again.

Decide to avoid criticism and negativity, both in yourself, and in your circle of acquaintances.

Choose instead to surround yourself with a positive climate,  of people and activities that value good ideas, nurture constructive accomplishments, and work towards noble goals.

Focus your thoughts on that which builds up, not tears down. It can feel like any other skill-builder, or physical exercise –  very difficult at first!  It may involve a radical re-thinking of familiar negative patterns, and a conscious effort to stop bad habits, and introduce healthy replacement choices.  However, the payback, like physical exercise  or a great investment, is immense, in the outstanding benefits you will gain, both in your outlook , and in your life!

Start by taking the first negative thought that comes to mind, and find a replacement thought that looks hopeful or optimistic. Although this may seem futile at first, you are actually re-training your brain out of negative thought habits, and building new neural pathways.

Persist at it for long enough, and you will actually see and feel the beneficial changes in your brain and body. We have been Masterfully designed for self-repair.

In other words, you will change your own life for the better, just by changing your thought-world. You can offer – and be – that priceless treasure, depending on your choices.

Such is the miracle God has put in each one of us. We just have to accept, and use it!

Waste As Much Time As You Like

So, you have a dream. You have a vision; something you feel called to do. You have something burning in you that you want to accomplish, but somehow, whenever you try to start, something always comes up to knock you off course. Maybe you’re too busy, always on the go. Maybe you lack the know-how to launch your idea(s) off the ground. Perhaps you’re too tired, can’t afford the resources or help you need…

I’m the same way. I know I’m called to write. I took a writing course. Now I’m taking  a marketing course. Those were big steps.  I knew they would equip me to work much more knowledgeably and efficiently. And guess what happened?

They helped, but it wasn’t enough, and  they didn’t provide all the assistance I needed.

I find myself getting easily frustrated, and quitting all too fast. Why?  Because I don’t have all the answers in front of me – now – and I don’t see immediate, easy solutions.

I started another book outline last evening. Today I knew it was time to develop it, expand it into chapter outlines, start the research… Truthfully,  it’s easier to avoid it.  There’s a lot of work involved.

So, guess what I did?

Started playing with an old gold marker that was gummed up, and tried to get it working again.

I knew I’d taken the wrong direction and made a bad decision, but I did it anyway, because, even though I knew the right thing to do, I didn’t want to face the hard work.

Suddenly, I sensed a word presenting itself in my thoughts. The word was this:

“Waste all the time you want. I won’t stop you. But I will require it of you.”

I stopped, frozen. What was that again?

“Waste all the time you want. I won’t stop you. But I will require it of you.”

Uh-ohhh…I recognized a word of truth, and, I knew Who was speaking it.

I suddenly remembered the scripture that tells us to “Redeem the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16.  Colossians 4:5 also mentions about “…redeeming the time.”

In short, this means to buy up, ransom, salvage, rescue, protect, sustain, safeguard, and preserve TIME. It means to invest in it, to make wise and sacred use of it, to recover from the power of another. (Strongs, and Thayers definitions)

We think of time as uncontrollable entity. It passes by us effortlessly, and we can’t do a thing to stop it, can we? Yet, God has given us the awesome privilege of protecting, preserving, recovering and even purchasing time.  How?

By putting enough worth on it to not waste it. By recognizing how priceless are the opportunities we’ve been given to add value to time by investing our best into it.

How often do we say, “Where has the time gone?”

Have you, like me, often seen an entire day slip away and been unable to recall doing anything noteworthy within it?

Do you remember the Bible story of the man who left home for a trip far away? This employer was a bit different, in that he had studied his three servants, and noted their personal strengths.  He then gave them each differing amounts of money, corresponding to the abilities he saw in them.  Following this, he departed, and left them to see what they would do. (Matthew 25:14-30)

The first two servants took their allotments,  one with five talents and another with two, worked the money and invested wisely. The third servant chose to bury his in the ground.

When their master arrived back home, he called a meeting, and asked each one for an account of what they did with the money – talents, as it was called.

The first two servants had gone out and worked the money well. Each brought back good news, having gained double his initial amount. “Well done, good and faithful servant! You’ve been faithful over some light responsibilities. Now, I’m going to make you a ruler over many things. Come, and celebrate the joy you’ve brought me!” was the reaction they received.

The interesting thing here, is that not only was their master very pleased, and praised their efforts well, he also instantly promoted them into positions of higher authority.

The third servant brought his report: “Master, I know you, that you’re a stern and a tough man. I know you reap from where you haven’t planted, and gain from where you haven’t invested, and I was afraid. So, I buried your talent in the ground. Here you go. I’m returning it to you.”

The reaction was as swift as the first two received, but definitely not as happy. “You wicked, lazy servant! You know that I reap from where I haven’t planted and gain from where I haven’t invested. You should have given my money to the brokers. Then when I returned I would have received my own, with interest. Take that talent, and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone that possesses and uses, it shall be given, and they will have abundance. But from those who lack due to this man’s reason, even what they did have will be taken away.”

The servant was then cast out, “into outer darkeness”.

Wow! That seems like a harsh response. After all, wasn’t the servant just “afraid”?  Shouldn’t he have been encouraged to try again?

Let’s look a bit deeper at what was really going on in that servant’s reply. If you read it over again, you’ll see several character traits portrayed in his answer.

He spoke definitively, calling his master a stern, tough man.  The servant chose to step out of his place, and assume a most un-servant-like attitude of judging his master’s personhood. Rather than honour the gift of his master’s success in business, he criticized  it.  This was another judgement, clearly out of his role. He evidently felt completely entitled to overlook a servant’s  job description of  respect, and  working for the betterment of the household. Next, rather than invest his entrustment, as his fellow-servants had done, he deliberately betrayed his master’s  wishes,  stopped any potential to succeed, and buried it. To his master’s face, he blamed his action on “fear”.

 

It was actually not fear, as much as intimidation, and likely envy, resulting in a judgmental attitude. There was a passive-aggressive colour to his actions, which his master instantly recognized.

If you remember, the story tells of how the master had observed his staff, and given the talents based on the abilities he had already seen in them. Obviously the servant who received the fewest had been noted as having some lesser qualities. After reading of his behavior, we could infer that his attitude had already been a noted problem.

This servant essentially blew the opportunity he had been given to redeem himself, even after his master, knowing what he knew of the man’s character, had tried again to give him a second chance.

This story continues to wrench me every time I read it. I feel regret, and sadness that there was no apparent gratitude from the servant, no effort to develop his giftings, better himself, or overcome his self-centredness. No desire to admit his faults or show any remorse.

You see,  Jesus said this story is like the kingdom of heaven. Every opportunity is given to help us succeed,  thrive and prosper. Our response, our attitude and actions are up to us.

Interestingly, Thayer’s definition of outer darkness is literal, as well as metaphorical. It refers to a person “of darkened eyesight, or blindness, ignorant of respecting divine things and human duties… “A person in whom darkness becomes visible and holds sway.”

It makes me look at myself, and ask, how am I investing the gift that have been entrusted to me?

Yes, Jesus invested His absolute best into us. He gave every one of us gifts, ‘talents’ as it were. He gives us that second chance, and wants to see us succeed, and produce not just a little, but much gain. He calls us to invest those gifts, work those talents, and He will see that they result in rich accomplishments that will bless both us, the people around us, and Him.

We know He is Love. We know He wants to give a second chance to as many people as possible, not only to come to Him, but also to live an abundant life. He has given gifts – talents – for us to invest and use for this purpose. He wants us to be VERY productive with these gifts, and reap huge results!

You might say, yes, I do know what  giftings I’ve been given.  Or, you may feel that you have very few gifts to offer.  Few or many, we all have valuable, irreplaceable, and very individual talents to develop. However, there is another, extremely valuable gift God has given to every one of us.

What is it?

Time.

As of this moment, time is the world’s most priceless gift. It is still free to all of us who live.

How are you making the most of your gifts?

I am now writing this blog. I’ll be working on my book after this.

 

What are your talents, your dreams? How have you gotten going with them?

 

Please feel free to share in the comments below!

 

 

The Best Vengeance

 

 

 

It’s happened to all of us.

Abuses, injustices, offenses, treachery. Wounds we didn’t deserve. People – sometimes those closest to us – who don’t care to make it right.

What do you do, when your offenders have hurt, misused, and betrayed you? Acted in ways that no decent human should act. Trespassed boundaries, destroyed trust, taken away your rights, and thrown your happiness over the cliff?

Most of us would like to see justice done. We want reparation, and restoration of our peace. We want to see the wrong made right,  the adversary acknowledge their wrong,  see the immensity of their crime, and make amends.

Very sadly, this kind of healing does not always happen. We are often left alone with the heavy burden of pain, grief,  even rage, and no answer or relief appears in sight.

What do you do when the offender has no desire to change?

Sure, we can feel re-victimized, experience grief,  get very frustrated or angry, and feel spiteful against them. Don’t they deserve it, after all?

Have you ever noticed the result of such an attitude?  In my  experience, my posture of anger has never yielded the results I wanted.

I have come to see though, that when I choose a higher way, when I decide  to respond with  healthier behavior  than what they have demonstrated, it often seems to baffle them.

Sometimes changing yourself is the best vengeance you can get.

They don’t know what to do when someone  chooses  to not play the “React and Get Offended” game. They have little idea of  how to adjust to someone who treats them with undeserved mercy and a good example of maturity.

And guess what?

THIS is where I have seen the greatest results. I have seen my offenders change their ways, become friends instead of enemies, or sometimes, give up and move on, because I won’t accept the victim role any more.

I have also learned to question my own motives for revenge. What did I want to achieve by getting back at them? More pain, suffering, humiliation? Did I really want them to learn and grow past their destructive ways, into healthier behaviors, or just suffer for the damage they did to me?

In this searching, I have come to realize yet another truth. Vengeance is God’s right and domain. I cannot have the infinite knowledge to know why another person may decide not to change, or may choose to act in the destructive way they do. But God has chosen to offer redemption to them – and to me too – when we least deserved it. So, I have to let them go from my “You Owe Me” file,  and let God take care of them.

I have higher things to do, and so do you. . God has called us to greater things, and we need to expend more time in finding out what those things are, and put our passion and energy into developing those destinies. They will bring far greater happiness and growth, than getting bogged down thinking  about, and anticipating ‘payback’. Is this an easy process? No, but it’s a valuable one!

Don’t let your past woundings and offenses sabotage you from your greatest hopes, dreams and destinies being fulfilled.

Let go of yesterday, pray for those enemies, reconcile wherever possible, plan for a successful tomorrow, and choose to live joyfully today! Invest your energy into building your own dreams and destiny, and stop wasting precious time and resources in thinking negatively of those people, who  -incidentally – gain no benefit from it. Prayer will yield a far better chance for both of you to recover.

Dedicate your energy into redemption, which is making good things come out of evil circumstances. Recognise who the real enemy is here – the one who wants to destroy every person and every potential. Knowing  that the enemy would ruin you, God has provided for your release from the bondage of a painful past.

However, we can’y deny the situations that have occurred. None of us can minimize the pain and agony of some of these wounds. We certainly  must acknowledge them, grieve, deal with them and heal.   However, with surety, we then work onward towards our recovery and revival. Knowing that God has deeply concerned Himself with our restoration, enables us – if we want it – to give the unbearable weight of these woundings to Him.

Go free and forward into your own destiny and drop the heavy burdens of heartache, offenses and grudges behind you!

To pull this all together, when you pray for your enemies, “disconnect” the freightload of pain dragging you backwards.  Let it drop away,  then find your calling, and commit to maturing into your own giftings. That is the greatest  -and healthiest – form of retaliation known to humankind – to decide you will create good out of evil.

It is also one of the greatest blessings God has offered.  And it is free and available, to every one of us !

The Sacrifice Of Fools

Ecclesiastes 5: 1-3 gives us some very wise advice, not only for our walk with God, but also for any relationship.

It says, “Watch your step when you go to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they don’t consider that they do evil”.

Note, the phrase “To do evil” translates “to themselves, and to others.”
So, there’s a catchy phrase here, “The sacrifice of fools”.

What does it mean?
Ecclesiastes goes on:
“Don’t be rash with your mouth, and don’t let your heart be hasty to utter any thing before God, for God is in heaven, and you, are on earth. So, let your words be few.”
It’s a good reminder that we’re the little guys, down here on earth, and God is in heaven. He created both us, and the earth on which we dwell. That would definitely give Him the better voice to learn from.

We humans can be very reflexive in our answers. We answer – fast. We tell others our quick opinions after very little consideration. We assume that God and others should listen to us, our opinions, our judgements, our problems and our wishes. Do we consider the other side?
Verse 3  then clinches the thought, by saying, “A dream comes through a lot of business, and a fool’s voice is known by a lot of words.”
We can apply this as well to the goals, or dreams, we wish to achieve. They happen through a lot of work, or busy-ness. A fool speaks many words, but accomplishes little actual progress.
What do you want for your marriage, your relationships, your destiny, and your walk with God?
Learn to walk carefully, and speak thoughtfully, only after you have listened well.  This is a certain hallmark of the one whose heart is ready to learn, and a powerful indicator of the one who wants to grow.

It may not be an easy task at first, but, if  you are willing to do the work of change,  you will see the good effects of progress, both with God, and with your earthly relationships!

Transformed

Most of us recognise that we need to alter our lifestyle in one way or another. However, the simple word, “Change” can be one of the most difficult words in our personal life to implement!
What does this word, ‘Change’ mean to you?
We change a flat tire on our car, change our clothes, our laundry, our location, our job, our health, our relationships, etc. Sometimes it is a positive experience; often a negative one.
Change happens in our external environment, yes, but more often, it affects us most profoundly in our internal climate. Personal happiness is often at stake.

How do we create good transformation – an internal habitat that is safe, stable and secure – in a world that guarantees nothing will remain the same permanently?

I’ve asked this question frequently, as much of my own life has changed, fluctuated, distressed or unsettled over the years. Where is a refuge? Where can we find peace?

The church’s classic answer, “Find your peace in God”, just doesn’t mean anything I can grasp with confidence.  I don’t always know what the method is to achieve, “Find “.

(Sadly, manuals are not  provided with these comfortable platitudes. It just gives the ‘pat-answer’ people a means to quickly escape difficult questions…)

A few days ago, I asked the Lord, “What do you want me to read today?” I felt the urging to read in the book of Romans, 12:2:

‘Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove [test, approve, allow, discern, examine] what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, [complete, mature, fulfilled]  will of God.’

“Transform”  is a powerful word. It stood out prominently to me, so I began looking up where else this word is located in the Bible.

It is used three other times, in Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2, and II Corinthians 3:18.

The Matthew and Mark references both tell the story of Jesus taking Peter, James and John only up into a high mountain. There, “He was transfigured before them, and His face shone as the sun, and his clothing was white as the light. And Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Him.” (umm, wow!) (but that’s another article…)

‘Transfigured” is another strong word. The dictionary definition defines it as: “to change the form or appearance of; to exalt; to glorify; to make over to a radically different form, composition, state or disposition”.  The Thesaurus gives the synonyms: transformed, changed, commuted, converted, metamorphosed, mutated, transferred, translated, transmuted, transposed, transubstantiated, transmogrified.”

Hmm, where had I seen that word, ‘transformed’ before?

The Strong’s Greek definition surprised me further.

The word ‘Transfigured’,  is the exact same word and definition as ‘Transformed’ !

It is this: To transform, (literally or figuratively, ‘Metamorphose’)

Thayer’s definition says, “To change into another form, to transform, to transfigure. Christ’s appearance was changed and was resplendent with divine brightness on the mount of transfiguration”.

In short, both Transformation and Transfiguration involve a radical change from one form into another.

We may think that Christ’s divine transfiguration on the mountain was a one-time glorious event. God wants us to know that the same transformation is available to us, by an act of our choice!

The Romans verse is spoken as an imperative sentence: “Don’t be conformed to this world. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

If we truly want change, it is not a passive event. It is a working process, and it requires something of us.

If we truly believe that He is a loving, good God who wants our very best,  and desires to bring us into good things, then we need to choose behaviors that reflect these beliefs. This will enable the positive changes to be fulfilled. As God sees our faith changing our behavior, He is then free to give the blessings.

We often operate under a mistaken belief that blessings should arrive without effort on our part.

While this is somewhat true, in reference to God’s gift of salvation, and His divine love and mercy, He is no sugar-Daddy.  He wants us to grow, to mature.  Only challenge, pressure, choice and exercise is going to do it. We need to defy,  not those around us, but our own carnal nature.

Colossians 2:6, 7 says, “Accordingly, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in that place with thanksgiving.

His word also says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. (Phil. 2:12)  The definitions of ‘work’ say: “to work fully, to accomplish, to achieve, to bring about,  result in,  to work out from which something results, to render one fit for a thing”.

Many other scriptures show that change occurs within our mind, our heart, our decisions, attitudes,  and manifest actions.

Make no mistake. These are not a sleepy, inert  words. They require whole-hearted effort!

**In order to Transform, we challenge our choices and outward behaviours to change, in order to reflect that we truly believe God has purchased our freedom through Jesus Christ. **

He truly wants to bring us into wholeness, joy and prosperity. Our old nature constantly tempts us to relapse.   If we’re not willing to do the work of change, we need to acknowledge that we don’t truly believe Christ’s resurrection has liberated us, and  stop complaining about the distress we experience. **

This is the Why – and the How – of one of the most powerful verses in the Bible.  It also explains the deep symbolism of the act of baptism. “I am crucified with Christ. However, I live! Yet, it’s not me   who lives, but Christ who lives within me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. ”  (Galatians 2:20)

What  if my feelings don’t believe this, you may say?

Don’t worry if they don’t line up at first.  Emotions will  change as we decide and train ourselves to do what is right. Feelings and emotions are never meant to guide our behaviours, yet often we give them a place higher than God’s words. They are indicators only, and have a valuable place as such, but are never meant to supersede our power of choice.

So, in summary, how do we change our internal climate? By changing our internal thoughts to reflect the positive, life-giving freedom we truly have in Christ.

Then, we choose the external behaviours that show – by faith – our belief.

I cannot minimize the cost of this “Mind Renovation” exercise. At first, it can be very challenging. Old ways do not die easily! However, when we engage in the process, resist the former ways and choose better thoughts, there comes a joy, a strength,  and deep sense of fulfillment that confirms deep inside you are on the right path! I have  – and continue to  – walk this process, and I can truthfully say it has revolutionized my life. It has eased depression, and dark, negative thought patterns, and brought an energy and optimism I didn’t realize before. No, sadly I’m not perfect, but, in comparison, this is the much better way to live!

It is no guarantee against the griefs of the world, but it definitely enables a brighter outlook to face the journey, as we step out of conformity to an old, destructive pattern, and into the Life of Christ in us!

 

The Debate Continues – Which Day, Which Way?

 

To egg or not to egg.

Colours, paint, ham, chocolate, Passover, Easter, Good Friday, or Good Thursday,  Three days in the grave or two,  etc?  Who is right. Compare and complain. Another chance for offences to abound.

At this time of year, we celebrate the death and subsequent life of Jesus Christ.  Different groups commemorate the same thing in very differing ways. They cannot agree, and so, end up in divided camps. How can we disengage from the conflict, and celebrate the concept?

Today, I marvel again at the utter humility it took for Someone knowing Himself to be equal to God,  who elected to become human, to voluntarily lay down His life.   The model of love, and servant-hood He displayed boggles the understanding.

It occurs to me that He asked us to set a similar example.

How,  I ponder, can we set such an example of  humility and love towards our fellow humans. We have no earthly power over death and life, do we?

Central to the theme is an overarching word:  Choice. . From beginning to the end, that theme of Choice is prevalent in the Bible.

Jesus chose to do what He did, elected to engage in a deathly conflict between good and evil. We know He won, and He did it for us. When we choose to believe and accept His gift, we move from death to life in Him. No human can offer that level of love , yet we can reflect it in our choices every day.

The book of Proverbs tells us the “death and life are in the power of the tongue”. (18:21)

James says we can alter the course of history by the power of our words. (Ch. 3)

In this one area, how can we choose to model the example of Christ’s life?

By realising He chose to ignore our wrongs, and redeem us back from certain, permanent death.  We,  likewise can speak truthful words that encourage, lift, build and not destroy.  We can choose to redeem. By refraining from complaining, hurtful, gossiping, belittling words that tear down. We can literally change the course of someone’s day, even their life, by the words we choose to speak.

The world is full of offences, anger, negativity, distortions and lies. We don’t have to look far to see it, but we don’t have to duplicate it in our own community. We can disengage from pointless debate, and find ways to emulate the  Love that is so much higher.

In such a simple way – yet very difficult at times – we can model our character to be more like Jesus’, by choosing words of life. We decide whether to stop the flow of anger, offense, revenge, complaint, negativity that pours effortlessly from our mouths. We become more mature and Christ-like, by exercising our power of  Choice, to select instead words of light, and hope and gratitude .

He loved us when we didn’t deserve it. He became a servant and sacrificed all, in order to bring us into all the potential He has for us. It is not a cheap gift He offered. True, selfless Love is the world’s most costly, and most enduring gift.  We cannot give what He gave, but we can honour His wishes, and choose to be a living reflection of His gift, by the words and actions we display.

Happy Resurrection!

To Sing Or not To Sing

nativityTo Sing Or Not To Sing

Okay, so I’ll admit to being perplexed.

In Christian circles there is much controversy about the way and the time that the birth of Christ is acknowledged. Some people joyfully celebrate December 25th as the day. Others are more doubtful as to the real time. Still others are downright oppositional,  citing Dec. 25th as nothing more than an attempt to hybrid-ize a heathen and Christian celebration- a political maneuver by the ancient emperor Constantine to gain brownie-points and strengthen his own kingdom.

I’ll make a few observations as I watch these (sometimes) polite, but pointed opinions hurling back and forth:

 

#1 – Battle lines are drawn: Those FOR Dec 25th Celebration / Those AGAINST Dec 25th Celebration

What is the prize?

That’s right, you read correctly.  What do both sides hope to gain by this debate?

If truth is the issue, the debate is not accomplishing its purpose. Both sides have their convictions.

 

#2- While the debate is roiling around, our culture merrily sips Peppermint Lattes, gets pickled at parties, goes frantic baking sugary detriments, paints on gobs of bling, and beseeches Santa Claus (not God) for what they want.

Does anyone in the Christian community notice the Godly advantage we used to have at this time of year is narrowing?

Where is our focus?

 

#3- Is the Day as important as the One we celebrate?

Can we stop forcing our opinions on anyone who’s not listening anyways, and start realizing what further division we are promoting against a Christianity, which,  in case no one has noticed,  is already taking considerable hits.

It has been well said that Christians are the only group that kills their wounded. I have observed we also CAUSE our wounded, due to a most un-Godly omission.

We forget that it’s all about love, forgiveness,  redemption and reconciliation.

What did Jesus come to accomplish?

To triumph over the forces of evil by the most evincing display anyone could offer – the laying down of His life for the saving of a lost and broken world.

Again I ask, where is our focus?

If God IS love, then what are we?

Love is not an event, or a prize to offer those who best please us. Love is a lifestyle.

 

Love is a conscious decision to pattern ourselves after the One who gave us everything we have, we are, or we could ever be.

Love is a Person, and He came to give His all for humanity, and asks us to do the same.

December 25th, or some other day?

 

I believe God asks us for a Higher focus. It’s called Love.

 

In The Beginning, God Made – Everything – – – And Where Do I Fit?

the-creation-1024x852Okay, so let’s have a ten second Bible study:

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

My first, second and third point, , “In the beginning, God created…”

In closing, “In the beginning, God created…”

Ta-daaaa! Your Sunday sermon,  complete.

I’ve heard multiple messages reminding me that, “In the beginning, God.”  In other words, He was always there.  Okay, I get that.  But what did He do in the beginning?  Well, He created.   And what a creation it was too!

Later, when He set His sights on creating mankind, He said, “Let’s make man in our own image, after our likeness.”

An image, according to the Hebrew translation in this verse, is a resemblance, and a representative figure. A likeness,  is also a resemblance. Did you know you were created to be a resemblance and a representative figure –  of God?   Wow. That bumps you right up  into the category of a masterpiece, right?  A Master-piece.

You were created by the Master Designer to resemble Him, and represent Him.

Would that make you worth something?  Priceless, in fact?

So, if God created, and you were made in His image to resemble Him, and represent Him, what are you creating,  in your world?

You might argue and say, “Oh, I’m not one of those artistic types. Not creative at all…”

However, we all create something, every day, in the sphere of our own giftings and desires. Perhaps you are a superb organizer. What kind of visions to you see, plans do you make, and projects do you create. How do you resemble God along the way? Do you plow down anyone who opposes you, or do you accomplish that project with grace and love, fitting as a representative of God?

What about in your personal interactions?  Do you create something whereby your mate, your family,  your co-workers or friends say, ” I see our relationship, and it is good!”

What about the statements and conversations you create with those around you? Created thoughts become words, which become actions, which become destinies. The Bible says we create  and change history with our words. (James 3:6) God has given you the awesome power of creating thoughts, words, actions,  and destinies.

Romans 12:2 reminds us to transform our actions by renewing our mind. Our thoughts control our mind. In the results of our thoughts, and subsequent words to each other, our minds will change, our words will create life, and we will see, by what we create into reality,  whether we have been a fitting representative of God.

In other words, what happened when you spoke, and when you took action? Good results, or negative consequences?

Ouch, that seems like a lot of responsibility, but…

A Masterpiece is not made to look -or act – like trash.

A Masterpiece is made as a superb exhibit, all in itself. It doesn’t have to showcase, showboat or show off. It is an outstanding, irreplaceable, magnificent,  beautiful gift to the world, made to be seen and appreciated, and valued by all.  It has a job, and a responsibility to represent – and point to – it’s Creator.

And so you are made to be all this, and not doubt your dignity and worth. You, as a created masterpiece of God, are made in His resemblance, and made as His representative.

Whether you know your giftings yet, doubt your background, dislike yourself or your circumstances, or,  despair for your future, you still occupy a place God has set individually for you alone, and all the healing you need is available to deal with your setbacks, and progress into your destiny, because you were first created to occupy the place of a Masterpiece. 

And that gives you a unique value, and an individual place that no one else can fill.

I’m Not Good Enough For God To Use. Really?

mary-anoints-the-feet-of-jesus1Do you  read the Bible – or avoid it-  with frustration, because you see no useful application to your life today?

Beginning In the book of Matthew, I’m going to write some  quick impressions as to how the Bible truly does relate to us today. They may not be new insights, but, I believe God wants us to know that His word is living and meaningful in both past, future, and present senses. He wants you to know that He is alive now, and has a plan and purpose for you, and each one of us!
Today, I read in the first chapter of Matthew the genealogy of Christ. Although we’ve heard it before, it impacts me again that several women are deliberately listed,  in a typically male sequence.

Each of those women have something dark in their past that should have excluded them (even indicted them in some cases) from such an illustrious family tree.
Tamar, for example, birthed twins, Perez and Zerah, conceived out of incest – with her own father-in-law! Perez was in the lineage of Jesus.
Rahab, a prostitute from Jericho, a wicked city destroyed at God’s command, became the mother of Boaz, King David’s grandfather. Did we mention she was a hooker?  Again, not the blue-blood parentage we expected.

Boaz married Ruth, a woman from the tribe of Moab. The Moabite nation was known as  extremely sinful, even murdering their own children.  God had ordered the Israelites to avoid and destroy them.

Bathsheba, the next in the line-up, was lawfully married to Uriah,  a brave soldier in King David’s army. David saw her bathing one evening, lusted after her, went to bed with her, while her husband was away at war, then had Uriah treacherously killed when he found out he’d gotten Bathsheba pregnant. (For the record, God was decidedly NOT pleased) Next, he married her, and their second child, Solomon, became an ancestor of Jesus. According to Old Testament ways, David’s children from this marriage would have been cursed for many generations.

Further down the list, we see Mary, the mother of Jesus, found to be pregnant before she had married Joseph?? THAT was a no-no… Although we know the rest of the story, nevertheless, it wasn’t the speckless story we might have preferred.

Why would God include these women in the ancestry? They make Jesus look bad, don’t they?  Or, is it possible that God wanted to strikingly illustrate the passing of the Old Covenant – the law of sin and death – to the New Covenant of grace, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8: 1-3)

What the law could not accomplish was a life for us that provides  redemption. Redemption states that for those who set their minds away from sin, and towards the things of the Holy Spirit, there is forgiveness and abundant life, in,  and because of Christ Jesus.

No condemnation, to those who give up the old life of sin and death, as illustrated by baptism, and show we are now born anew into the resurrected life of Jesus.  This is something the law could never offer!

I believe this is why we see such an ancestry in Matthew. It shows that anyone can be forgiven, and used mightily by God, if we truly want His ways.

And that message comes with a LOT of hope!!

 

First, Wipe The Table (Part 3 Of 3) Ready To Begin?

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Ready To Begin?

  1. Start with prayer. Ask God to guide you into what He wants. (After all, these were His gifts to you. He likely has great ideas for how to activate them too!)
  2. List the end goals. (Hint: Ask yourself, “What do I want to do?”)
  3. Prioritize which one you should begin with first
  4. Write the barriers to achieving it
  5. Think of the solutions you may be able to find.  Specify them.
  6. Plan your beginning steps – in small, achievable  portions. Factor in your schedule and responsibilities.
  7. Write on your calendar the days and times when you will work on developing this plan. Make it a regular schedule, even if you cannot always work on it at the same time every day.

Don’t be discouraged if you cannot devote massive amounts of time to your dream at first. What is most important, and what will still achieve results is the diligent endurance to persist faithfully every day, even if for only a short amount of time. It’s true that God alone gives the gifts, and yet, He has asked us to be industrious with them.  It is ultimately the self-discipline of perseverance that creates the success. 

(Read the story in Matthew 25:14-30.  God also “delivers His goods” to us, and will return to see what we have done with them while He is gone.)

Re-visit your plan frequently. What worked? What didn’t go as planned? Adjust, and try again.  Re-visit, adjust, and keep going.

Make an experiment of this for one year, and see how you have progressed. Be diligent – Don’t give up! Remember, you are the only one who can offer your gifts to a world who needs them, and everyone, including yourself, will be better for them!

Here is a link you may find useful for understanding who you are:

https://www.16personalities.com

If you would like further information on another test for discovering your Godly spiritual giftings, feel free to contact me.

Have you tried these any of these steps, or have you found other methods that work? Please share in our comments section!

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